In the process of renovating the kitchen, the plaster that was on this wall was crumbling and basically just fell off. The wife wants to keep it this way. Its a double brick wall. The inside is a bit rough. The outside is in great shape and just needs a bit of repointing in a few spots.


Here is a before. The wall in question is where the door is leaning:


The wife has wired brushed the wall and is cleaner than this now. I am thinking a light acid wash or as our painter suggested, vinegar, to clean it up, then maybe something like Thompson's Water seal or the like. When it has that "wet look", the colors of the brick really pop and she wants to keep that. We have the original butler's pantry that will take up about 2/3 of the wall anyway, but it does give the kitchen a neat look.

Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated.

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I agree with the dust. That old mortar is very crumbly. I think we have to do something to hold it together. In addition there are a few wood blocks just off the floor and a couple about 8-9 ft up. They were used to anchor/attach part of the wall, trim, baseboards, etc. These may also need to be sealed to preserve them and keep them from falling out.

I LOVE the exposed brick!  We did this with the old chimney in our kitchen in our last house and it added that little bit of interest to break up the monotony of cabinets.  I know that the victorians would never have wanted this stuff to show, but now it just looks great due to our years of covering up the mechanical and utilitarian areas.

I do highly recommend putting a few coats of varnish or poly on the brick once you have cleaned it properly.  It will really pop and keep your kitchen cleaner to boot.  Keep in mind you may still experience some "liming" and other spillage from the brick and mortar as it spars over the years, even with several clear coats.  Just don't put food directly under the wall for long periods of time and you'll be fine.  =^)

Thanks Andy, we will have to try a few things. I sort of like the idea of the poly since we could go with a satin finish and not get that shiney look to the brick. I think we want to seal it and keep is as natural as possible.



I love old brick. It gives a home so much character. And the funny thing about it is that the older and worse it gets, the better it seems to look. I agree with Sarah. I love the kind of soft, weathered, rustic look it has. You're fortunate to have such a nice surprise under your plaster. I see so many things on this forum that give me "old house envy". I think I can add this to the list.

For restoration purposes you should replace the plaster, buy hey there is no rush, cleaning the brick and sealing it is a great start and having the rustic look can be used to your advantage, just clean and seal and finish the trim around the woodwork to make it look customized.  Watch for any moisture problems in the future and re seal if needed.



You are probably right about redoing the plaster. But I am not going to win that battle with the wife right now. I do agree about the moisture issue. I am sure that is what broke down the plaster. What I am unsure about is where the moisture came from. Was it the from the exterior or was it because at some point in time the owners created a bathroom which this wall was part of, and included a tub/shower. I am sure this was part of the cause as the tub end of the wall was pretty bad. But the rest of the plaster was in bad shape as well. Almost just fell off.

So, I think it would be prudent to make sure the exterior mortar is repointed where needed and seal that wall on the outside and inside.


Yes, pinpointing the source of mosture is good.  Brick should be sealed on the out side, in the older days a lot of times birck after it had many years on it was painted red for sealing, today we have great water sealers that can give you different looks. Just to share a note and this is how I learn most of my knowlage is from other peoples mistakes.  A church cleaned the outside brick and tuck pointed but did not get around to resealing the birck, soon after the plaster inside started to weaken and fall, it did not take long.  So now I seal my birck just in case.  I have noticed sometimes plaster will develope what I call plaster rot.  Something in the moter, the plaster or an outside factor has broken down the plaster and caused it to just fall apart.  So it is just one of those things you have to deal with from time to time. 

"Plaster rot". Good term. That is exactly what I saw happen. I am sure something leaches into the plaster, maybe the acidity changes ever so slightly that causes it to breakdown.

What do you suggest for a sealer? I am thinking that we should do this for all the brick, since all the 1st floor plaster on the outside walls is on the brick.

any good water sealer will do, I like thompsons.  lightly spray and use a few coats, I saw kathys remark on motar which is good.  Try and find the motar mix raitio receipe that was used on the orginal job and blend it the same.  each brick layer made their own mix and this is very important in repairs and full redos.  Very important! to use the same type of mix.  I always save the old stuff that is taken out and save it and grind it up and use it in the new mixture.  I am not looking foward to this job on my place!!!  build in 1825 the mortar will have its own receipe, as luck may have smiled on me we have a sand bar on the creek near by where I am sure they got most of their sand for the orginal mixture.  Good Luck the hard part is over getting all the plaster off the wall. 

Funny this subject should come up.  I just tripped over a link to a website for a company that sells lime mortar.  And that's what you want for repointing inside or out, or the new, hard Portland cement mortar will break your bricks.  Don't know if this company is any good, but they look like a good resource:  De Gruchy's Limeworks

Traditional lime mortar was designed to be "sacrificial."  It allowed moisture to pass through and dissipate, as opposed to the wet getting into the bricks themselves.  It was assumed that eventually the mortar would degenerate and be replaced, which is better than replacing the brick!

When I was investigating chimney restoration I found the lime motar site, as well as a couple of companies, one being in Texas that will analyze a sample and match it for you. It was expensive, I think something like $125.

When I hired the guy to do the restoration and we discussed this process, he just looked at the motar and said "no problem" and matched it himself.

So, I will have to get him back to do the wall.


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